The Why?s Man

"My art is place specific and people specific." George Wyllie

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Our ship was in the northern Pacific when the news of the bombing of Hiroshima came over the radio. We welcomed this, for we knew it meant the end of the war.

About two months later I visited Hiroshima with some shipmates. We wandered among the ruins and I took a photograph. I had seen other places destroyed by bombs, and was therefore inclined to measure the devastation of Hiroshima against this. At that time the idea of being 'anti-nuclear' did not exist. Radiation did not occur to us, nor were we warned. Such was our innocence, ignorance, and stupidity. We wandered amongst the exposed grid of the streets, rubbed heat pulverised granite through our fingers, collected globules of molten glass and saw charred tree trunks everywhere. Scarred children played quietly. We grovelled a few souvenirs then left by a train, for Yokohama.

On our ship we were never very keen on the Japs. They were a dangerous and unpleasant enemy and we were glad to see them defeated. We used a very clever bomb to do this, and it - like the Japs, caused a lot of suffering. In the light of this experience - that should have been the end of it. But like simple sailors confronted by awesome immensity too consequential to grasp, we cut loose the thought as though to let it drift from memory. Others, stupid enough to believe they can understand, believe that they do.

The absurdity, the horror, and the DIFFERENCE of Hiroshima is, that for the first time ever, the evolution and eternity of this planet, its human race, and the culmination of all energies which is fertility, can be converted by a touch on an idiot switch, to sterility.

George Wyllie, 1991

Scul?ture Jubilee, 1966-1991 (Third Eye)


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